A 31-year-old man who attacked a girl on a towpath in St Albans was convicted of attempted rape today (Friday, March 26).
Jay Brett pushed the 13-year-old to the ground and put his hands up her dress, pulling down her underwear to just above her knees.
She told a jury at St Albans crown court she was screaming for help. When he tried to pull down his own shorts, she managed to break free and run away.
Prosecutor Wayne Cleaver said it was on the afternoon of Sunday August 2 last year that the girl and a group of friends were out enjoying themselves on a towpath beside the river which ran alongside Alban Way, a footpath that runs through St Albans, not far from the city centre.
He said: “She was unexpectedly approached by a man who grabbed her, pushed her to the ground, tried to remove her underwear and tried to sexually assault her.”
Mr Cleaver went on: “This was a random attack in which a man intended to rape and sexually assault this young girl and that man was Jay Brett.”
The court was told it was around 2.50pm and the girl’s friends had stepped into a shallow section of the river, while she remained on the towpath watching them.
Giving evidence, the girl told the court she and her friends had decided to meet up before the long summer holiday. She said they walked around the area, sat down and chatted, and had “snacks” with them.
The girl said when one of her friends had to leave and go home to a barbecue, they decided to walk with her to a set of steps that led up onto the Alban Way.
She said it was then that her friends decided to dip their feet in the river again, but she had been in earlier and decided not to join them, but watch them from the towpath.
It was then, she said, that Brett, who was wearing shorts, appeared on the path and she stepped aside to let him pass.
The girl said he stopped and spoke to her friends. They made their way along the river away from him and she decided to follow them along the path.
The jury heard that bushes along the path meant that she lost sight of her friends and it was then that the man came up to her.
She said: “I think he said something to me and then he just put his hand over my mouth and he put me on the floor on my back and kneeled down in front of me. His hand went under my dress and he tried to take my pants off.
“Both of his hands pulled the sides of my pants down and that’s when he partially took his shorts down.”
The girl said the defendant tried to touch her intimately, telling the court: “He tried to put his fingers inside me. He was definitely touching the exterior of my vagina.”
The teenager told the jury she had been screaming during the attack. “I was shouting ‘Help me, help me! Someone help.’ I was saying ‘Please stop, don’t do this to me.”
But she said she was able to get free and got to her feet and ran off and joined her friends by the steps to the Alban Way.
“I was in shock, I was shaking,” she told the jury. She said a man was on the phone to the police, who arrived after a “couple of minutes.”
Earlier prosecutor Mr Cleaver told the court the day after the attack a police officer walking out of St Albans Police Station at around 4pm saw a man matching the description the girl had given concerning the man who attacked her. He called for assistance and the man was arrested a short while later.
“It was this man, Jay Brett,” said Mr Cleaver.
The jury was told forensic swab tests taken from the girl’s face where she said the attacker had placed his hand over her mouth revealed DNA components that matched the defendants DNA.
Mr Cleaver said the same tests carried out in the area of her inner thighs and pants revealed similar DNA links to Mr Brett.
Giving evidence, Brett of Praetorian Crescent, St Albans, told the jury he had been walking along the towpath that afternoon on the way to see a friend.
He said lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine and he came across a group of “young people” who were in the shallow part of a stream.
Brett said he had seen a young girl on the footpath near the group and became aware she had fallen over.
He said he offered to help her to her feet and put out his hand, but she got to her feet and ran off.
Asked by his barrister Scott Brady why he had made the offer, he said: “Because I am a kind gentleman and I would offer to help someone.”